“My daughter, Vandana, has cleared her UPSC finals and this is the golden day of my life,” announced a proud father, who was also a Jailer at the Taloja Jail. He distributed ‘pedas’ to share his happiness. Very few times had a strict disciplinarian like him even smiled in front of the hard core inmates of the jail.
Distributing the sweets, the prison-warden said, “Mr. Rajan, this one is for you.” Rajan took it, without even looking at the warden, crumpled it. The onlookers were puzzled at this strange behavior. The warden expected this, preferred not to create an unpleasant scene. “I will do what I want to do,” he mumbled and left.
Rajan’s cold behavior was difficult to infer. He hardly spoke to anyone. Surprisingly, there was not a single visitor for over a year. Everyone was dumbfounded at his strange reactions to normal things. His silence was difficult to decode.
Every morning he would wake up early, do exercises, finish the work allotted to him, had lunch or tea, go back to his cell, and then keep staring blankly at the ceiling for hours before calling it a day.
Once an inmate tried talking to him, he was assaulted badly. A few more warm gestures met with similar fate. Now, nobody was keen to know about him, he was abandoned.
That evening, the Jailer came to Rajan’s cell.
“I did not like your morning reactions but I know you. Mr. Rajan, even after being a criminal you are different. You surrendered voluntarily, accepting your crime. You denied services of a public prosecutor, you are violent only when disturbed. Otherwise your records are good.” sympathized the Jailer.
There was absolute silence in the cell. The apathetic face seemed to have ignored the word.
“Don’t you believe in the system? Is there anything I can help you with?” yet another futile attempt. Clearing his throat, “Vandana is coming to meet you, better co-operate with her.” A proud father warned another aghast one.
When Vandana arrived, she started politely, “Hello Rajan Uncle, would you like to talk to me?” He was numb.
“Please have this ‘peda’ uncle” requested Vandana. Still, the face was motionless.
“Am I not like your daughter, Meena? Would you behave in this manner with her too?” Before Vandana could finish, he broke down. She was not expected this. Though she trembled from within, Vandana maintained a serene face.
“Sorry uncle, if I hurt you,” she consoled him.
“I killed those 2 boys!!!” blabbered, an inconsolable Rajan. “My Meenu was supposed to turn 21 the next fortnight, before these bastards raped and murdered her. I lost myself. I did not wait for justice to happen, I delivered it. Those affluent boys would have easily manipulated the legal law using their resources. I cut them in two parts with one shot.” the saturated bubble burst.
“I will fight for you,” Vandana’s one decision made the two fathers’ proud.
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